We have managed Google Adwords for a multitude of auto repair shops and the expense is the biggest issue we find with the owners. After 4 years of managing Google Ads campaigns, we will give you the good, bad, and the ugly of deciding to run search ads for your garage.
How Effective Are Google Ads For Auto Repair Shops
If you own an auto repair business you are definitely in the right place. We have spent the last 4 years running Google Adwords accounts for auto repair shops across North America. If you are one of those that have been “playing around” with Google Ads for your auto repair shop, now is the time to figure out what works and what doesn’t work. Knowing the specifics of your location, competitors, and daily search volume will make or break your ad campaigns.
Google Adwords may be the most cost-effective way to advertise in many markets with an average conversion rate of 3.5% benchmarked across all industries and 2.7% in the automotive. This means you can buy 100 clicks at $8 each ($800) and come up with less than 3 customers. For some auto repair businesses, they are priced out of the market, and for others, it’s just a cost of doing business. Either way, ads are an expensive alternative to other marketing methods.
How Much Money Do You Need For Your Ad Campaign?
As a starting point of a Google Adwords campaign, include a minimum of $2,000 in the account and you will have a good idea of how your ad spends compared to others. However, once you get up to $5k to spend and have more than one car repair shop operating in the same market there is no pace that Google will get you without dumping money into the account. What many auto repair shop owners don’t know is that you need to sink in a minimum of 2-3 months’ worth of search ads ($6000) so that your account can collect important data and serve your ads to the best customers with the highest likelihood of buying.
So if you are not prepared to be patient and expect a positive ROAS (Return On Ad Spend) you should look elsewhere. When we manage Google Adwords campaigns for auto repair shop clients we are reluctant to promise any big results in the first 30 days at best you can expect a minimal loss or break even on your Ad Spend. Stay away from Google Ads agencies that promise overnight and immediate results because they are seldom.
If your business is struggling already and you are hoping for Google Ads to turn things around we recommend that you stay away from the paid ads momentarily until you can improve other aspects of your business like bottom line pricing and customer service. If your auto repair shop is operating on a shoestring budget Google ads can become an expensive acquisition. On the other hand, if the business is great and you need ways to scale and branch out to areas Google Ads may be a great fit to move into new territories.
How Competitive Is Google Adwords For Auto Repair Shops
The answer is extremely! Because Google Ads is an auction-based system it allows the highest bidder to show up on the top of the first page for local searches. Because there are very few businesses that can spend $1,000+ per day on Google Ads (advertising) the playing field is like a free-for-all. Go ahead and search “Oil Change Lawrenceville GA” and see what happens…
With digital marketing in the automotive industry, the deepest pockets prevail. Even established small shops struggle to compete with larger garages with more than 10 years in the industry. Budgets for auto repair shops are high with CPC’s (costs per click) ranging from $2.50-$8 and there is a good chance your ad will “fall through the cracks”. Google Adwords is a rat race and it’s every business for themselves — we have seen it all from competitors getting friends and family members to click on the competition’s ads to bleed out their budgets and shops bidding on the competitor’s name to appear above them in the search result pages.
Once your auto repair shop gets to the top be ready for all the dirty tricks of the trade, if you have any doubts about your position have us do a competitive analysis to make sure you don’t fall asleep on your competitors or there not taking advantage of you.
If You’re Not Tracking With Google Analytics You Have A Big Problem
One of the first and most important things we do before running any google ads is to make sure Google Analytics and the correct tracking tags are installed on the website. You’re shooting in the dark if you are not tracking conversions. Google uses tag implementation to analyze behaviors on your website that lead to sales. Some important actions to track are Phone Number Clicks, Map Activations, Message Forms, and Newsletter Subscriptions.
Google Analytics is free with the Adwords service and it is one of the most powerful analytical tools available in the industry. It is hard to install or get helpful phone support it can take days to weeks to get everything set up correctly. The Google Tag Implementation Team is based out of India, they are very knowledgeable and can guide you but after years of dealing with this department first hand, the protocol and communication barriers can be frustrating. Not all accounts are granted equal access to this live support team and your level of support is based on external factors such as the amount of money you’re spending or the length of time your account has been active.
So why go through all this trouble? you need to track the conversions to have the most effective Google Ads. It is said once you register a minimum of 30 conversions (phone clicks, form submissions) your campaigns will improve and your costs will go down. You can also get real-time numbers straight on your phone as well with the Google Analytics App you can see how many visitors are visiting your site and measure important metrics.
The Best Types Of Ads For Auto Repair Shops
The most popular and highest converting type of ad for auto repair facilities is Google Search Ads. PPC (pay per click) search ads appear as a top sponsored listing and they appear at the top and side of the page. The advertisers pay for clicks on their ads and Google determines which ad gets displayed based on two factors: Quality Score and Cost Per Click (CPC).
When creating search ads for your services your headlines must resonate with the person searching. Using buzz words and compelling headlines separate you from the competition. For example: “Blown Engine? Need New Engine? Is your engine knocking, ticking, tapping, or blowing black smoke, we can fix it.” Phrases like this grab people’s attention and almost everybody will click on this ad even if they don’t need it. When creating ads for auto repair shops you should think about how to target and position yourself in the market.
Your headlines and ad copy should strike on emotion to your customer so they respond, the only challenge is that you are limited to 30 characters per headline. Your descriptions can be 90 characters in length and have supporting statements to get people searching to click on your ad first. If you are not comfortable writing the ads you can always outsource it to a copywriter and just provide them with the parameters. Test a variety of search ads and see which ones perform best. By default, Google will sort your ads and serve the best performing copy so that it takes lots of the guesswork out and you can keep adding in more ads as your campaign matures.
Getting the basics right is important when you are bidding on keywords. You can use your location, what services you offer and variations to get you higher quality leads. Don’t waste money on keywords that don’t convert — it might look like you’re getting traffic but if they’re not calling or converting then it’s useless data. You will need to monitor your campaigns every 3-5 days and eliminate keywords that have low click-thru rates and that are not relevant to your business.
Once you pinpoint the highest converting keywords you can increase the budget on them and even put them into single word ad groups. If you know the right keywords to bid on it will pay off in the long run. Get your keyword research down pat and you will be able to get more quality leads with your salespeople. Be sure to select high-value keywords that are included in “keyword phrases” or “long tail”. These are the high-value terms that might be more difficult for your competition to find but more valuable for your business. Things like: “car repair techs” “vehicle engine techs” etc.
Stay away from broad match keywords in the beginning Google will recommend that you use broad match but it opens up a flood of search queries that deplete your budget rapidly. Starting with exact and phrase match is ideal because you will have more prominent clicks for your budget.
- Exact = [bumper repair]
- Phrase = “Bumper Repair” for 2010 Honda Accord
- Broad = DIY Bumper Repair
You can see that the intent from exact and phrase match can lead to a sale for your shop with a broad match you can get lots of searches with minimal or no intent to do business with you.
Google will make lots of recommendations and some of them will lead to you ultimately spending more money on ads than you intend to. Be wise and conservative with your decisions and don’t be afraid to pull the plug if you need to. This is an important part of running an effective campaign. When I was first starting you don’t know it all and the only way to get better is by experimenting and making mistakes.
Quality Scores Using Google Ads For Auto Repairs Shops
Setting up your landing pages is also important. If someone clicks on your ad they need to see a page that promotes the services that they are looking for – not for your generic auto repair shop. You should never just send traffic to your home page it should be a landing page that has in-depth information about your service. The landing page should have a clear call to action to get people to contact you we like to use a lead generation form. If someone does contact you from a landing page then you must respond quickly and reply with a call or text message.
In the beginning months of your, Google Ads run the ads for one week and analyze which ad groups are converting. If a particular ad group has a lower quality score then pull it from your campaign and see if you can create a better-suited page to match the ad group. Quality scores are a good thing because they level the playing field for advertisers.
Final Thoughts On Google Adwords For Auto Repair Shops
As mentioned earlier in the article the bigger budgets usually take the top position your only shot of competing is to create a better landing page and have an SEO-optimized website. Consider at least having 600 words of relevant content on the landing page and even a youtube video embedded to help explain the service this will help the bounce rate and keep customers on the page longer. Google will see that people are spending longer amounts of time on the page and award you with a higher quality score.
The reward from having a higher quality score is that you will spend lower amounts of ad spend and appear more frequently at the top of the results.
According to Google Quality Score is calculated based on the combined performance of 3 components:
- Expected clickthrough rate (CTR): The likelihood that your ad will be clicked when shown.
- Ad relevance: How closely your ad matches the intent behind a user’s search.
- Landing page experience: How relevant and useful your landing page is to people who click your ad.
If you are looking to start Google Adwords and need some help we specialize in setting up and managing campaigns for auto repair businesses. If your business is struggling and spending upwards of $2000 per month on digital advertising seems like a lot we suggest you just don’t and work on organic strategies such as SEO to get started. Whichever you decide leave us a message we are glad to help.